Hi, everybody! I'm Masala Chai, the wall of text Karma main that sometimes rambles on the Boards. I'd like to address a common point of discussion while being not excessively one-sided or not. Keep an open mind when reading this post because we don't want a devolution and make sure to be vocal about what you think as well.
The opinions vary from "holy crap he is freaking freelo" to "holy crap he is complete garbage". Naturally, there is some selection bias when it comes to working with these opinions, especially since against certain champs he can feel rather oppressive to lane against, especially in the vast majority of games and the other group since they either main Yasuo or have perfected the art of Malzahar and Morgana.
Evidence: Yasuo's current win rate through a spread is approximate ~50% at Plat+, the winrate trends upwards as you approach closer to Bronze (some 53%), and less as you approach Diamond+ (roughly 48%). Keep in mind that the median rank for Platinum is somewhere around high P4 and low P3. His global winrate across all elo ranges and regions is approximately **51.6%.** Also, Yasuo's P/B percentage when compounding both statistics together is roughly 85%~ in Bronze, Silver, and Gold, eventually petering out to a 55%~ in high D5. The P/B ratio is the highest in Silver, which makes sense since the average elo of Yasuo mains is roughly Silver II.
Analysis: For the vast majority of the playerbase:
- Yasuo is probably the best champion to climb low elo with, the skill curve for experience over games player evens out 50% at approximately 8 games played for both Bronze and Silver. A 53%ish winrate in low elo over that many games with that high of a playerbase isn't anything to scoff at. He doesn't have a very high skill floor, but his skill cap is probably one of the most rewarding since he has a rather high delta, but relative to any of the other mechanically-intensive champion in League amongst the likes of Zed, Kalista, RIven, Ryze and Azir, he actually is rather average in that spectrum. More game-sensitive champions, such as Taliyah, Karma, and Galio also have higher match-up deltas when compared to Yasuo. Granted there is some problematic things when comparing high playerbase champions like Yasuo with lower ones like Kalista and Aurelion Sol, since they have extremely low relative playerbases.
- For the top 10% - 1% of players (P5 to G1 ish) he is relatively balanced and leans a more dependent role on his teammates and individual mechanical play, and then for the 1% he becomes increasingly more of a niche and one-trick pick. (Keep in mind I'm extrapolating this data allocation, so there may be a sharp spike in winrate as we approach the top 0.25%.)
So how will we assume if Yasuo is a balanced champion?
We will assume two things:
- Riot balances the game around mid-Platinum elo. (he certainly is relatively balanced in that arena, especially given his low skill floor)
- Riot will make sure that champions that pubstomp low elo, or are overly dominant in pro or high elo are kept as closed to balanced in those elos as possible. (not really then, but there is still much to be done)
- Yasuo has one of the most rewarding skill curves when given to the overall curve of mechanical mastery, but definitely not as rewarding for the usage of macro play. He is therefore modestly rewarding and experienced players should be able to find decent success with him.
- Any further changes to Yasuo should focus on homogenizing his strengths across elos by raising his execution bar and raising the reward he gets when he executes his tools properly. While this would probably make him weaker in low elo, this would hopefully lower his extremely high banrate, reduced player frustration while hopefully keeping what makes Yasuo, Yasuo. Making the people that have tons of experience and skill able to be able to show off their mastery of the champion by rewarding the best Yasuos more than they are currently, but the average Yasuo will have more difficulty in finding success, especially in the lower tiers of Solo Q.
tl;dr Yasuo is probably balanced, but he is more balanced in some elos than in others. Weak in high elo, strong in low elo.